On Monday, David Irving, 67, a right-wing British historian was sentenced to three years in prison – out of a maximum of 10 – by an Austrian court for denying that the Holocaust ever occurred. On the contrary to Mr. Irving’s opinion, the Holocaust certainly did occur. Millions of people cannot be suffering from delusions of grandeur about the fate of six million Jews and others who Hitler and his regime systematically exterminated.

I have heard the stories and been to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. My grandfather is one of a lucky few who escaped Germany on the last train that Hitler allowed to leave the country. He escaped Germany at the age of eight to essentially become an orphan in Great Britain. If the Holocaust never happened then what was he running from? Why does he still have the yellow stars inscribed with the word “Jude” that he was forced to wear and letters from his mother in Auschwitz? What happened to my great-grandmother and the rest of his family? Part of the answer to this can be found in the numerous memorials to the victims of the Holocaust around the world.

And yet, though David Irving’s beliefs about this horrible atrocity are radical and incorrect, he should not be imprisoned for them. It would be completely illogical. This would mean that all people who have publicly avowed their disbelief in the existence of the Holocaust should be imprisoned. Not only would this be very irrational and difficult to enforce, given that the world would have to imprison countless individuals who have dissenting beliefs, but it evades the problem.

I’m not sure this is the kind of justice that the victims of the Holocaust would be seeking all these years later. There are more beneficial alternatives to this that would honor those who have been victims of the Holocaust. Instead of taking people like Irving to court, we should focus on catching remaining war criminals of the Third Reich. This would foster a more complete sense of justice.

We must spread the awareness of the Holocaust and Hitler’s depravities against humanity. People around the world need to be informed about what happened so that similar atrocities will never occur in the future. As we continue to lose survivors of the Holocaust, we must keep their memory alive.

It’s difficult for people to grasp this reality because it is so inconceivable that a genocide of this magnitude could occur. Hopefully we can reduce ignorance and disbelief, thereby reducing the number of opinions held by people like David Irving. We must never forget the destruction and annihilation that befell six million Jewish people and prevent any semblance of it in the future.

Levy can be reached atjlevy@campustimes.org.

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